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'Survivor: Worlds Apart' crowns Mike Holloway its "Sole Survivor" winner


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/21/2015 

Survivor: Worlds Apart declared Mike Holloway the winner of its $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, CA.

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"The reason I was able to play loosely was because somebody paid the price for my sins many years ago, Jesus Christ. He allowed me to live this life and have fun, but in the game of Survivor, when your back is completely up against the wall and you know what position you're in [within] this game and the only person that you can trust is yourself, you're able to make moves that otherwise you may not have had the forethought to think of... Just go get firewood all day every day. Blue Collar, work hard. Those firewood walks were strategy talk, looking for the idol, code," Mike said during the live reunion special after his victory was announced.

Mike, a 38-year-old oil driller from North Richland Hills, TX, beat runner-up Carolyn Rivera, a 52-year-old corporate executive from Tampa, FL, and third-place finisher Will Sims II, a 41-year-old YouTube sensation from Sherman Oaks, CA, in the 30th season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed during the live broadcast.

"I'm pretty surprised," Carolyn told Jeff about getting as few votes as she did considering the game she had played. "I thought for sure that I would get a lot more votes. I'm very proud of how I played."

Jeff revealed six votes during the live reunion show. One person voted for Will, one person voted for Carolyn, and four people voted for Mike. Because Jeff did not show any additional votes for Carolyn or Will, it's likely Mike got the rest of them.

Rodney Lavoie Jr., a 24-year-old general contractor from Boston, MA, finished in fourth place, while Sierra Dawn Thomas, a 27-year-old barrel racer from Roy, UT, claimed fifth place.

Survivor: Worlds Apart's finale began on Night 35 right after Carolyn had played her hidden Immunity Idol to save herself. Mike couldn't believe that Carolyn's alliance proved she was on the bottom but then right when they got back to the beach, they left Mike in the dust and gathered to talk. Rodney asked why Carolyn had hid the idol from them because they were a tight alliance she should've trusted, but then she threw in their face how they had all just voted for her.

Carolyn told the cameras Mike had her back but he didn't have the numbers so she still needed her alliance. There were no more idols or advantages, so Carolyn told her group, "Game on." Mike was still the No. 1 threat left in the game in everyone's eyes.

On Day 36, the remaining castaways met with Jeff for a Reward Challenge.

Jeff instructed them to race under a net, make their way to a table, slide tiles into a target, and then use a machete to transport those tiles over a series of obstacles to the finish table, where they must sort the tiles into pairs. Three of the tiles did not match up, and those three tiles held a code to a combination that unlocked a box. The first person to unlock his or her box and raise a flag would win Reward in the form of some much needed love.

Each castaway was then surprised by a visit from a loved one. Carolyn got to see her husband and partner for over 40 years, Mike got a visit from his mom, Rodney got to see his father, Sierra got a visit from her father, and Will got reunited with his wife.

The challenge came down to Mike vs. Sierra. Mike won Reward, which was some special time with his mother Deborah in addition to an advantage in the next Individual Immunity Challenge. Mike said having his mother spend the night was the best day he could imagine.

On Day 37, Mike and his mother were led to a table where Mike's advantage awaited him. Mike had to blindfold himself and then entered a giant maze in which he had to retrieve four medallions. Mike was given 30 minutes to explore the maze guided by his loved one. When the time was up, he had to stop. Unfortunately, Deborah couldn't really find her own way through the complicated maze so it didn't help Mike much. Deborah felt awful for letting her son down, but she knew Mike would never make her feel guilty.

Later that day, the five castaways met Jeff again for an Individual Immunity Challenge.

Jeff explained each castaway had to navigate his or her way through a giant maze while blindfolded. Starting in the very center of the maze, they had to race to find four medallions in the North, South, East and West corners of the maze. There were guide posts to help them out. Once all four medallions were found, they could look for the immunity necklace.

Rodney helped Sierra and Will during the challenge when Mike had a lead with four medallions. Mike was left out as everyone helped each other.

Mike ended up winning Individual Immunity for the fourth time, guaranteeing himself a spot in the Final 4. The person voted out that night would become the season's seventh member of the jury. Mike was so happy about winning but his back was completely against the wall. He knew if he didn't win the next Immunity Challenge as well, he'd be going home without a doubt.

After the challenge, the alliance of four had to turn on each other. Carolyn didn't have her idol, so she was more nervous than ever. However, she put a Plan B. into action by using her bond with Mike to hopefully get herself into the Final 4. Carolyn talked to Mike and Sierra about getting rid of Rodney. Mike promised Carolyn he wasn't writing her name down, but he admitted it was tough to believe anyone would take him to the Final 3 since he could hear everyone helping each other in the challenge.

Sierra was desperate to work with Mike because she was terrified to go home. She told him that he could trust her because she had been loyal to the Blues throughout the game. Sierra promised 100% on her "father's love," she take out Rodney. The threesome agreed Rodney should go because they didn't want someone who was riding coattails to make it further in the game.

Mike told Rodney the girls were going after him. Rodney asked Mike to go for a walk and he was disgusted the girls were "kissing Mike's ass." Rodney told Mike the girls were faking him out and Mike acted like that wasn't news to him at all. Rodney pointed out that Sierra and Carolyn were looking all buddy-buddy but Sierra had written Carolyn's name down at the prior Tribal Council.

Rodney told Mike that Sierra had done nothing in the game and he'd have a better shot of beating him -- the "vulgar assh-le" over Sierra "the sweetheart."

The only person who came close to beating Mike in the challenges was Sierra, so Rodney assured Mike he could rally Will's vote to get her out. Rodney pitched the three guys going strong, but Mike didn't trust anyone. Mike followed his gut and tried to make the best decision for his own game, but he admitted that if he chose the wrong side, he could be making a million-dollar mistake.

At Tribal Council that night, Jeff welcomed the following jury members: Hali Ford, Joe Anglim, Jenn Brown, Shirin Oskooi, Tyler Fredrickson and Dan Foley. Dan looked disappointed and annoyed when seeing the necklace around Mike's neck again.

Mike told Jeff he was the swing vote and it was "a weird position to be in." Mike announced he could only trust himself. Rodney said he swore his vote on his sister who had passed away so he wasn't lying. Sierra insisted she's trying very hard and deserves to remain in the game. Mike told Jeff everyone's plan was to take weaker players to the end. Will said if Mike didn't win immunity again, he'd be sorry.

After the votes were cast, Jeff read them aloud: Sierra, Rodney, Sierra, and Sierra.

The first half of Survivor's two-hour finale showed that Rodney, Mike, Carolyn and Will voted for Sierra. Sierra voted for Rodney. Sierra became the fourteenth person voted out of this game.

"I've never been surrounded by people who lie as much as these people do, but if they're playing the game as me being a threat, I guess it's kind of a compliment. That's how tonight went. I gave it my best, but it wasn't enough," Sierra said following her ouster.

On Day 38, the remaining four castaways competed in another Individual Immunity Challenge.

The players had to untie knots to open a gate, race up a huge tower, retrieve a key at the top, slide down a giant waterslide, and then make their way to a multi-level obstacle course where they had to use the key to release a bag of puzzle pieces. Once they got the bag and dropped it on a table, they'd head back up. Once they collected all three of their bags, they had to use the pieces inside to solve a lighthouse puzzle.

Mike had all three bags and started working on his puzzle before anyone. Will and Carolyn seemed completely exhausted by this point. Mike's main competition appeared to be Carolyn because she had previously won two Individual Immunity Challenges.

Mike won his fifth Individual Immunity Challenge and guaranteed himself a spot at the Final 3 Tribal Council. Mike therefore received the opportunity to plead his case of why he deserved to be called "Sole Survivor" and win the $1 million grand prize. Jeff explained Mike had joined an elite group in Survivor's history for his accomplishments.

Will said the game had changed him and he hoped to show his daughter at home that when you put effort in, you can do anything. Will congratulated Mike and put the necklace around him. The castaways hugged each other and there was a real sense of comradery and pride.

"It's like being able to breathe for the first time in a long time. It doesn't mean that there's not still a lot of battle to be taken place, but at this particular point, I can still revel in it," Mike said in a confessional before doing his "happy dance."

All the castaways returned to camp arm-in-arm. Rodney joked he couldn't do puzzles. Mike didn't allow his victory to go to his head because his decision of whom to take to the end was huge. Mike escaped from the group to do some thinking. Carolyn chased after him, and Rodney said to Will that although Carolyn wanted to stay in the game so badly, she wasn't going to.

Rodney was convinced Mike would take himself and Will to the end. Mike and Rodney were both voting for Carolyn. Mike told Carolyn he wasn't voting for her because he wasn't joking when he promised her Final 3. Mike wanted it to be core Blue to the end but Dan, Sierra and Rodney all turned their backs on him. Mike questioned if it was a million-dollar mistake, but he was following his gut.

Mike asked Carolyn to vote Rodney. But Rodney and Will were going to vote Carolyn. As a result, Mike said it would go down to a fire-making challenge between herself and Rodney. Mike asked Carolyn to practice making fire and she was nervous. Mike told Carolyn she deserved to go to the end and earned her spot. Carolyn put her game face on. Rodney told Mike he could do something crazy and split the vote or they could all just relax and enjoy a nice breakfast the next morning.

Mike told Rodney he had some thinking to do because Carolyn was asking him to vote for Rodney. Rodney thought he was just trying to secure Carolyn's jury vote while Mike knew all along he was taking him to the end. Rodney said Mike thought it would be easy money. Rodney felt confident he'd end up in the Final 3.

Mike said in a confessional that if Rodney lost the fire-making challenge, it would be "poetic justice."

"Rodney thinks he's smooth-talked his way all the way into the Final 3. Maybe I am making a million-dollar wrong mistake, but I'd rather lose to 'Mama C' than be the guy who just took two goats to the end and won," Mike told the cameras.

Carolyn had trouble making fire and became discouraged. She cried to Mike but he asked her to hold her head up high and not give up.

At Tribal Council that night, once again, Dan looked furious Mike would be going to the Final 3.

Everything played out as Mike had envisioned it. Rodney and Carolyn, after each receiving two votes, were required to make fire. Rodney appeared shocked Mike didn't side with him.

Jeff explained Carolyn and Rodney had the exact same amount of supplies to build a fire and the first person to build a fire tall enough to burn through a rope and raise a flag would win. After six minutes, Carolyn's flint broke and she got another one. The same thing happened to Rodney shortly afterwards. The pair was still going at it after 21 minutes and then 45. Neither of them could even spark a single flame. Rodney ignited one but quickly lost it.

After 53 minutes, Rodney got another flame and made fire. He threw some wood in, but Carolyn got fire only seconds later. It was so close but Carolyn managed to do it and survived. Rodney therefore became the eighth and final member of the jury.

The Final 3 came down to a representative from each of the original three tribes -- a No Collar in Will, Blue Collar in Mike and White Collar in Carolyn. Rodney called Mike a "scumbag Redneck" who made him compete in a fire-starting challenge because he was a scared "little baby." Rodney was furious and said Mike would have what's coming to him. Rodney was convinced he would've won the show if he had made it to the end.

About 10 minutes after that challenge, Rodney had some nice final words.

"I came into the show as an escape -- to get away from all the problems I had back home to do with my family and my sister's death and a lot of frustration. I came out here and I found peace. I put an end to the demons of losing my sister, and it made me gain my sister back and it made me closer to my family. I won't take anything for granted because food and starvation, the simple things in life, are the best things in life," Rodney said after his elimination.

On Day 39, the three castaways reflected on their journeys and enjoyed a big breakfast.

That night, the Final 3 castaways arrived for the last Tribal Council of Survivor's 30th edition. All the jury members returned plus Sierra and Rodney.

Mike, Carolyn and Will faced the jury, who then got to address the three castaways by asking questions, praising them or stating their issues.

Joe said he was an open vote and asked everyone to earn it. Hali asked Carolyn how her "mother role" around camp might've served as a disadvantage, and Carolyn said she was so nurturing and took care of everybody that people may not have viewed her as a real player.

Rodney asked Will how he "kept it real" with everyone on the jury to solidify his position as "Sole Survivor," and Will said he had no knowledge of the game nor was he a physical threat, but he made real friendships and was always a giving person. Will said if no one respected that, it was fine, but he used what he had and he didn't get to the end with luck.

Rodney asked Carolyn what moves she had made. Carolyn explained she got out Tyler and then Dan. Carolyn said once her alliance cast votes for her and betrayed her, she hooked up with Mike as a backup plan because she was always ready and prepared.

Tyler told Mike that he pretty much put every person on the jury in one way or another, so he asked him how he could redeem himself when thinking of a social strategy or aspect to his gameplay. Mike said he wanted to do better socially than he did but clearly failed miserable at that. Mike said his only redeeming quality was that he sucked and maybe wasn't as genuine as he thought.

Tyler told Carolyn he was "heartbroken and gutted" because he had protected Carolyn. She apologized and said it was her most difficult vote. Carolyn noted it pained her and she didn't feel good about and she had to make moves she wouldn't be proud of so she wouldn't end up on the jury.

Sierra asked Will which trait he'd take from the other two players if he could. Will said he liked Mike's work ethic but disliked his approach because he should have led by example. Will liked how Carolyn analyzed things before putting them into motion. Jenn had "no qualms" with anyone and then talked to the jury calling them "bitter and angry" at people who played better than them.

Jenn yelled at the jury saying Mike did everything he could strategically to stay in the game because he didn't have another choice. Jenn said Mike outwitted, outplayed and outlasted while the other two might've done only one of those things. Jenn suggested following the rules of Survivor and if they were super fans, they'd vote for the deserving person.

Dan was up next and didn't want to have to follow Jenn. Dan shook his head at Mike and said he didn't care about the jury and all he cared about was making it to the end. Dan said he better care about them that night because there was no necklace to save him.

Mike told Dan his biggest regret in the game was losing his trust at the Survivor auction, and Mike apologized for that. Mike wanted to be friends with Dan in the future and later said during the reunion show he regretted going back on his word to Dan at the auction, but from a game standpoint, it was horrible strategy not to take the advantage.

Dan told Mike that was the most genuine thing he's said since the auction because he had danced and dodged around what happened up until that point. Dan was hopeful they could mend their fences and then congratulated the Final 3. Shirin spoke next and called out Will for verbally abusing her again. She also called Mike her protector, saying he had saved her and was a genuine friend and real human being.

However, Shirin acknowledged her vote was going to the person who played the best game, and that person was Carolyn. Shirin told the jury Carolyn was like a stingray in that she'd destroy anything that threatened her but she'd do it silently while hidden. Mike, on the other hand, was loud and boisterous about moves he was making. Shirin also pointed out Carolyn was on the winning side of every vote, which was a unique distinction. Shirin called Will a dead fish they dragged in with a net.

When votes were being cast, Sierra was shown voting for Carolyn, Jenn was shown voting for Mike, and Rodney was shown voting for Will.

In Survivor's live reunion special, the cast revealed if Rodney had made it to the end with Mike and Will, he would've received three votes but still lost to Mike. Dan admitted to saying things in poor taste and it was not always the editing that took his offensive comments about women out of context. Shirin also revealed Will apologized to her for verbally assaulting her but only after he got flack from the Survivor audience. Will offered her another true, genuine apology after her complaint.





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